Governing Akwa Ibom 2019: The Political Battle for Supremacy between PDP’s Udom Emmanuel and APC’s Nsima Ekere

Alao Abiodun
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So much political activities has continued to heat up Akwa Ibom polity ahead of the 2019 governorship election. Interestingly, the growing political tension in Akwa Ibom State is as result of the lingering battle between the leaders of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC.

However the case might turn out to be, it’s very much certain that in the next couple of weeks, the citizens of Akwa Ibom State will be electing another executive Governor. One can however see this governorship contest as more of a personality clash between Udom Emmanuel and Godswill Akpabio over who controls the soul of Akwa Ibom politics.

As part of the pleasant surprises this election promise to bring forth, this will be the first time in the state that the PDP will be having a formidable opposition, as the APC is battle-ready to possibly take over the seat of government in the state. This certainly shows that the 2019 election promises to be a keen contest between a ruthless opposition party and the powerful ruling party.

The incumbent Governor, Udom Emmanuel will fight the battle of his life to regain his seat because it’s crystal clear that there are many odds against his re-election bid. It should be recalled that during the 2015 General Elections, Governor Udom Emmanuel rode on the wings of Godswill Akpabio, the former governor where he confidently and triumphantly flew the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to victory.

Based on the political situation, it’s also visible to the blind that the two main parties; the ruling, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) — are already flexing their muscular strength over the Akwa Ibom State Government House with other parties ending up as mere spectators on the election day.

According to reports, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the incumbent Governor, Governor Emmanuel, are not on speaking terms over political differences. Even though Akpabio handpicked and campaigned for Emmanuel to succeed him in 2015 from the PDP platform, both men can’t stand the sight of the other at the moment.

Akpabio defected to the governing APC on August 8, 2018,  To prove how disgusted he was with Akpabio and his defection, Gov Emmanuel promptly sacked two commissioners from his cabinet for joining the welcome party that received Sen Akpabio at the Uyo Airport, a day before he formally announced that he was dumping the PDP for the APC.

Pundits are already examining the chances of the two leading political parties and their candidates in the looming re-run election. Will Governor Udom Emmanuel (PDP) still hold ace after the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State?

It’s crystal clear that through the actions and inactions of the incumbent, Governor Udom Emmanuel is determined to hold on to power, while the APC is busy enlarging its membership, equipping its arsenal and expanding its scope of influence across the state through enjoying the powers of the federal might.

It has also been alleged that a sizeable number of PDP members, including Governor Udom’s cousins from Awa in Onna local government area of the state have also dumped the party. The gale of defections from serving lawmakers at the National Assembly namely, Senator Nelson Effiong, of Akwa Ibom South (Eket) Senatorial District, Hon. Emmanuel Ukoette of Ukanafun/Oruk Anam federal constituency and host of others have apparently destabilized the power grip of the PDP.

Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Peoples Democratic Party

Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is a finance expert, public administrator and politician. He is the fourth democratically elected governor (tenth overall) of Akwa Ibom State. He is also a former Executive Director of Zenith Bank PLC.

Mr. Udom Emmanuel was sworn in as governor of Akwa Ibom State on May 29, 2015. Before now, he served as the Secretary to the State Government under his predecessor and political mentor, Godswill Akpabio. Udom Emmanuel’s political career has been one of the most controversial areas of his life. His gubernatorial campaign is widely believed to have been sponsored by his predecessor. Godswill Akpabio had publicly admitted his total support for, and sponsor of Udom’s ambition before and after the election. He was quoted severally as saying “let God’s will be done again, again and again”.

Udom was elected Governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with Mr. Moses Ekpo as his Deputy. He rode on the mantra of “Udom is Right”. Udom defeated twenty-two other aspirants to emerge winner at the party primaries held in December 2014. He went ahead to win the main election in April 2015 with 996,071 votes ahead of his closest rival, Umana Okon Umana of the APC who scored 89,865 votes.

Few weeks ago, He presented a 8-point agenda manifesto ahead of the 2019 general elections. The governor unveiled the 172 pages manifesto while flagging off his campaign at the Uyo township stadium. He also promised to consolidate on the gains of his first term, while also reeling out his achievements in office so far Governor Emmanuel who divided his manifesto into two sections; ‘My Scorecard of 2015 Manifesto,’ ‘Completion Agenda 2019-2023,’ reeled out sectoral achievements of his first term in office.

On industrialisation, the governor harped on establishing at least one petroleum refinery, one thermal power plant, one petrochemical plant, and one steel plant in Akwa Ibom state before the end of his second term administration in 2023.

Expatiating on his vision for small and medium scale enterprises, the governor promised to develop entrepreneurial skills of Akwa Ibom indigenes; facilitate easy access to capital for startups or financial support and generate employment opportunities.

He also promised to establish search and rescue centre, flight training school, construction of power station to supply electricity to the airport in order to boost the aviation industry which is part of his second term agenda for the state.

Nsima Ekere, All Progressives Congress

Nsima Udo Ekere is the ex-Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) He is the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress Governorship Candidate for Akwa Ibom State for the 2019 election. Nsima Ekere is a native of Ikot Oboroenyin, Edemaya Clan Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He has chaired the Akwa Ibom State Emergency Management Agency and simultaneously as Chairman of Ibom Power Company, the independent power generating company owned by Akwa Ibom State.

Nsima Ekere’s active and very impressive political career began in December 1997, when he contested and won election into the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly during the Abacha Transition, on the platform of the then fledgling Grassroots Democratic Movement, GDM.

He wasn’t however inaugurated before Abacha died in June 1998 and that transition was truncated. He then joined the PDP at the start of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s transition regime in 1998, and played a very active part in the politics of the state till he emerged deputy governor on May 29, 2011.

Nsima Ekere was the leader of the G22, a group of 22 PDP governorship aspirants for the 2015 governorship election but however due to internal party decisions and elections, Udom Emmanuel emerged as the governorship flagbearer of the PDP. It was at this point, Nsima Ekere left the PDP and joined hands with Umana Okon Umana in the APC in their quest to win the 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State from Akpabio’s PDP.  Udom Emmanuel of the PDP emerged as governor.

The momentum of the Akwa Ibom State Governorship election has grown since the much-talked-about defection to the APC of the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and former Minority Leader of the 8th Senate, Eld. Godswill Akpabio.

Meanwhile, Nsima Ekere has unveiled his five points blueprint hinged on the socioeconomic transformation of the state. Ekere,  in his presentation, reeled out the areas where the current administration has failed the people of Akwa Ibom and promised that if he is elected the next governor of the state, his administration will restore hope to every sector of the state.

However, some stakeholders expressed optimism that Ekere’s achievements in the NDDC will be replicated in all towns and villages in the state due to his wealth of experience in public administration.

Despite insinuations that the APC as an opposition party in Akwa Ibom State and the South-South may not be popular to win elections in the region, some chieftains of the party said the people of the region are happy with the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government and as such are prepared to vote him massively in the forthcoming election.

Ahead of the Akwa Ibom 2019 Guber election, it’s quite observable that both parties — APC and PDP — have tested the depth of their strengths across the 31 local governments and as such there is much anxiety about how the contest will be won and lost. Irrespective of the situation, Akwa Ibom people are obviously torn between two opposing forces or options.

Will PDP’s Udom Emmanuel be able to actualize his re-election bid and emerge as winner? or Will APC’s Nsima Ekere break the PDP-jinx which has dominated the governance of Akwa Ibom for a long time?


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